YARMOUTH, N.S. – MaCali Cormier is being remembered by her family and others who knew and loved her as a little girl who loved helping other people.
And it is in this spirit of helping and giving back that a candlelight vigil is being held in Yarmouth’s Frost Park Monday evening, Nov. 26, at 7 p.m.
The vigil has been organized by caring members of the community as a means of allowing people to remember the young girl who lost her life in a tragic incident during this past weekend’s annual holiday parade of lights in Yarmouth.
The vigil is also a chance for the community to show its support for the young girl’s family.
And, as well, it will also be a chance for people to extend this show of support to the first responders and others impacted by this heartbreaking event. The youngster died on Saturday after falling underneath a float at the parade. As the young girl’s family grieves their loss, so too does MaCali’s hometown.
According to her obituary posted on the Huskilson’s Funeral Home website on Monday, the little girl – the daughter of Jocelyn LeBlanc and Matthew Cormier, who would have turned 5 in early January – was a pre-primary student at Yarmouth Central School.
“She loved school and couldn’t wait to go to the brand new school they were building across the street,” her obituary reads, saying MaCali also had a passion for swimming, camping at Ellenwood Park, horse riding, dancing and watching YouTube videos. “Most of all,” the obituary reads, “MaCali will be remembered as a little girl who loved helping other people.”
Funeral arrangements were still incomplete on Monday, but a trust fund has been set up through Huskilson’s Funeral Home for the McCali’s brother and sister Tessa and Matthew.
Roland Hannem, the little girl’s grandfather, shared a statement on the family’s behalf with the Tri-County Vanguard on Monday: “We are overwhelmed with the support and outreach of the community. The thoughts and prayers do bring comfort to help us through this tragedy. We all appreciate the love and care shown to us.”
This love and care is being demonstrated in many ways, both to the family and to those impacted by what happened.
On Sunday evening an open session, facilitated by Bertha Brannen, an RN and Grief Recovery Specialist, was held in Yarmouth for those who had witnessed the terrible event – there were many parents and children who saw what happened. And it was also a session for those who been impacted by it in other ways. People were invited to come and share their thoughts and feelings, ask questions, or just sit and listen.
Brannen says questions asked at the Sunday session has prompted a follow-up session that will be held for the public at the Grand Hotel in Yarmouth on Tuesday evening, Nov. 27, at 6:30 p.m. on the subject of how children view death.
“That became obviously one of the questions of the young parents, how do they talk to their kids – and at different ages – because obviously a lot of kids were witness to the event,” Brannen said. “Sunday night was more about the adults, but Tuesday night is sharing with the adults about how to talk to their kids.”
Brannen says in times of grief, loss and trauma it is important for people to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to talk about their feelings and that there is no shame in admitting you need help to cope. It’s not a sign of weakness, if anything, reaching out is sign of strength.
“It’s one of the issues that we face in society, and not just in Yarmouth, that we never talk about grief and loss and when it happens it’s much harder to process,” she said.
“We need to talk. We just can’t continue being strong and keeping a stiff upper lip,” said Brannen. “I think in the last few years with Mental Health coming on board, and charities like Let’s Talk, it has certainly raised an awareness that we just can’t be strong and pretend this doesn’t bother us.” Brannen she was pleased to see how many times information about the Sunday night session was shared and talked about on social media prior to it happening. People wanted to ensure others knew that this support was available.
Said Brannen, “It speaks to me highly about the heart of Yarmouth.”